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Getting Help from Other Caregivers

Assisted Living Facilities continued...

We predict that ten years from now, wheelchairs will come equipped with special compartments for laptop computers, since every older adult will know the value of being wired. For now, start out slowly, be patient during lessons, and limit your instruction to basics until Dad gets the knack of it.

If tipping isn't allowed, don't tip. The temptation to accept your offer might get someone in trouble. Find other ways of letting staff members know how much you appreciate them. Write letters of commendation to the management of the facility.

No matter how plush the nursing home or how modern the facility, the staff is going to be overworked. Help out when you can.

If Mom's favorite paintings just won't fit on the limited wall space she now has, consider donating them to the home or facility so that she can enjoy them more than she ever has before -- by sharing them with others.

"She is so proud to see others admire the painting she's loved all these years, and we were all touched by the sentiment she asked us to add to the inscription under the painting: 'A shared blessing is a double blessing.'"
-Sue Weinberg

Senior facilities change hands often. If you liked one you saw last year, don't assume it's still in the same condition. New owners often mean new policies.

Go to every meeting to which you're invited at least once. Having a parent in a nursing home can easily become a part-time job for you. Organize the brigade -- ask others to attend meetings for you and report back. If you can't attend, can someone tape the discussion for you?

Your loved one may greatly benefit from having a small refrigerator for snacks and a TV and DVD player. Rotate his movie collection often.

Let the staff know the conditions under which you want to be notified. Some facilities won't call you if your parent falls, for instance, unless you tell them to do so.

Arrange to take your parent outdoors as much as possible when you visit. No matter how well staffed the facility is, it's usually impossible to get everyone outside on those gorgeous spring days. Unfortunately, in the scheme of nursing care, this is generally not considered a priority.

Be honest with your parent about how long she'll be there.

"That is the worst thing I see families do to the residents. They lie and say, 'Oh, Mommy, you will only be here for a few days.' Then the family goes home and the resident thinks we are crazy because we act like she will be living here. When she finds out the truth, she is mad and doesn't know who she can trust anymore."
-Kayleen Sutherland

In addition to the obvious, here are some questions you might ask yourself when considering an assisted living facility:

  • Do staff members refer to residents by name?
  • Will you be able to have private time with your parent when you come to visit?
  • What's the food really like? Eat a whole meal there!
  • How many of the caregivers you see on the unit are privately hired and how many are members of the staff?
  • Are visiting hours limited? Why?
  • How often will your loved one have a chance to go outdoors?
  • What sorts of care does this facility provide that may not be necessary now but which may become needed in the future?
  • Would you like to live there?
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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on July 12, 2012

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